Implementing good teamwork practices in your workplace can bring significant benefits for your employees and the overall success and longevity of your business.
And while there are many ways to further boost and improve the teamwork culture in your company, personality tests are probably one of the most interesting and creative methods you can opt for.
But before we tell you all about how to improve teamwork using personality assessments, let’s cover some teamwork basics first.
Why Is Teamwork Important in the Workplace?
We’re all aware that teamwork is important in the workplace, so let’s see why that is.
1) New ideas
Diverse teams, high-performing teammates, and people working toward shared team goals can’t bring anything else but new and good ideas.
Teamwork enables people to enjoy long discussions and have meaningful conversations, and so it encourages employees to consider others’ perspectives. These fresh perspectives and good ideas that stem from effective teamwork have the power to drive your business to much greater success.
That said, such good ideas can only flow in a work environment where there’s no fear of negative feedback, criticism, or poor judgment. That’s why it’s important to give your employees a safe space where they can freely voice their opinions and perspectives.
2) Efficient work
Teamwork also leads to more efficient work. High-performing teams know that delegating tasks leads to completing a project faster and better. It also ensures that the right employee does the task they can do best.
Here’s how you can start delegating tasks more effectively.
Understand that task delegation gives you time to focus on other important tasks. Smart leaders know what it is they need to do, and what their employees should do for them to maximize their time at work.
More workload gets done with less time. As task delegation means sharing responsibility, everyone working effectively will boost the overall productivity of the entire team.
You get insights into your employees’ capacities, skills, and strengths. You know the areas where they perform well, and those they need to improve, so give the right task to the right employee.
3) Self-monitoring skills
While working alone comes with some benefits, like having more autonomy and fewer distractions, there are also some drawbacks that are not experienced when working in a team. We’re talking about having no direct support, no second opinion, no access to a variety of skill sets, no one to track the progress that’s been made or if a deadline is being missed, and so on.
Well, such things rarely happen within teams. In essence, in teamwork, a lot of employees share different responsibilities for one and the same goal. So, when one group member’s performance seems to dip, others will be there to pick them up or compensate for their lack of effort/good performance/contribution.
All in all, strong teams know how to regulate their own work and performance without intervention from managers or team leaders.
4) Creative solutions
Apart from producing efficient work or having self-monitoring skills, teamwork also helps team players innovate much faster. When looking to solve a problem or when brainstorming ideas for a new project, the most effective ideas are created as part of teamwork.
This is so because when teams address issues or come up with ideas, they do so by approaching the subject at hand from multiple different perspectives, while taking advantage of their different skill sets, experiences, reasoning, and thought patterns.
5) Healthy competition
Teamwork helps create healthy competition in the office. Imagine an office crew with four social media managers who feel like they learned all there is to learn from each other. They attend the same conferences, webinars, and have access to the same resources at work. They manage the same social media company platforms, and delegate similar tasks to other employees in the same work environment.
In such situations, it’s expected of them to want to prove their ability, skills, and good ideas by coming up with new solutions to stand out from the rest of their colleagues and get a promotion or establish themselves as the best-performing employee.
That said, it’s important to note that competition shouldn’t be an employee’s priority to get things done, receive company incentives, or perform better. Healthy competition can indeed be healthy (as long as it doesn’t develop into rivalry), however, it shouldn’t be the key element that drives your company forward. Plus, if it’s so highlighted, it won’t lead to more effective teamwork either.
The best way to approach this is not to accentuate the competition aspect during any work-related process or task so openly - simply treat it as a process that occurs simultaneously with the overall workload. It’s not the end goal or what defines your employees’ skills or capacity.
6) Better interpersonal relationships
Teamwork promotes stronger working relationships. When employees grouped together achieve team goals and enjoy the team’s success, they develop long-lasting bonds that may even extend outside the office. Plus, employees who have good interaction with peers are more likely to support others, cooperate, motivate new hires, be open to frequent communication both with team leaders and fellow team members, and so on.
7) Toxic work culture reduction
Believe it or not, teamwork reduces toxic work culture. In general, toxic behavior in certain workplaces may come from a lack of open communication, unclear team goals, low morale, and unnecessary drama. When there’s such miscommunication and no understanding among employees, this not only creates an unhealthy work environment but also affects the overall business in a negative way.
On the other hand, encouraging effective teamwork can eliminate such negatives and foster a sense of unison and employee community which is way better for everyone’s well-being.
Finally, understanding why teamwork is important in the workplace doesn’t quite tell you how to improve teamwork, however, it’s a great starting point for what’s about to follow in the next section.
How Personality Tests Improve Teamwork
The following section explains how to improve teamwork by introducing personality tests in your work environment.
Most of the suggestions, explanations, and good ideas we share below are directly linked with one another, which is why you’ll find yourself easily combining most of them together.
Let’s start with the first one.
1) Build trust within the team
Trust works in many ways in successful teams.
- The company culture and open communication
- HR leaders, managers, and team leaders
- Team goals
- Good ideas, good performance, and good work
- Knowing how to improve teamwork skills
- Creating strong teams
- And more importantly, trust in themselves and fellow team members.
Personality tests can’t help you build such mutual trust overnight - but the results you’ll receive can give you insights into what changes you need to make to boost the trust levels in the entire team bit by bit.
2) Allow team members to play to their strengths
Identifying their strengths can unite employees and make fellow team members function as a cohesive unit. Allowing team members to prioritize their specific skills and natural abilities enables them to put in the necessary effort, come up with good ideas, and perform well.
Moreover, allowing team members to play to their strengths makes them more productive and engaged. When people understand why they excel in certain tasks and how to make their strengths work for them, the whole team benefits.
Here’s how you can help your employees find their strengths and boost them further:
Don’t assume people know all their strengths. Taking a personality test is the first step, but do discuss things further with them. Analyze their core strengths and competencies, and ask them what this new information will change in terms of their performance and contribution to the team’s success. Here are some strengths worth observing: collaboration skills, task delegation skills, organizational skills, problem-solving skills, analytical thinking, reliability, adaptability, very strong work ethic, leadership skills, persuasion skills, persistence, discipline, and so on.
Help group members apply their individual strengths to the overall team’s success. Be their guiding hand, but do rely on support from HR leaders, managers, and other team leaders.
Help everyone understand how their different strengths and personalities can help improve teamwork and produce wonderful diverse teams with varied skill sets.
Incorporate team members’ strengths into reviews and performance discussions.
Introduce career-growth opportunities and training for your team where they can work on a strength they’d like to develop or improve.
All in all, by prioritizing their strengths, employees will feel more valuable and more confident in what they bring to the business table, rather than having to adopt skills or strengths that don’t come quite naturally to them. As Phil Jackson put it, “the strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”
3) Help teams understand themselves, and others
Personality tests help team members understand not only themselves, but also their team members. In essence, they get to learn who every team member is deep down, why they behave the way they do, what they need to do to make some tangible changes, their preferences, likes and dislikes, values, how they respond to criticism and conflict, and so on.
Personality tests allow people to look inward and learn things they may have never anticipated about themselves. This helps them embrace the good qualities and strive to balance the challenging ones in a way that resonates with them.
4) Positively impact team culture
Another answer to the “How to improve teamwork” question lies in analyzing the impact personality testing has on the overall team culture.
For instance, using personality tests with new hires as part of their onboarding process will show you how they fit with the already existing team culture in the office. What roles would suit them best? How can they contribute to the team? Is it a good idea to have the managers monitor their performance or perhaps some fellow team members should do it instead?
Team culture is also company culture, therefore, it’s important to check where your employees stand with this from time to time. Have their priorities changed? Has their behavior been slightly altered? What kind of collaboration tools can you introduce in your work environment to make improvements to the overall company culture?
Just take the test results as a starting point and see how things develop from there on.
5) Clarify team roles
Personality tests can help clarify employees’ roles in the team and explain certain behaviors, like why one employee is often in the leadership position and another is more willing to follow, or why someone on the team is more confident in their skills while someone else isn’t as much.
Although such tests can’t really tell you what to do and which team player should get which role, they sure help in the process.
Of course, these things aren’t set in stone. Some projects, collaboration tools, and new ideas might encourage employees to exhibit different skills and traits, so their roles and behaviors can change.
6) Encourage clear, frequent communication
As personality tests expose employees’ character traits, personalities, and preferences, it’ll be easy to see why someone’s great at communicating with group members while someone else might struggle.
However, analyzing test results and acting on them should help promote open communication for everyone in a way that feels right for each individual.
Moreover, open communication is different for each individual and depends on the context. Sometimes, it may include writing a bunch of direct emails, other times, it may require longer one-on-one meetings with HR leaders, managers, or fellow team members.
Regardless of which option ends up dominating your work environment, one thing’s certain - personality tests can’t talk on others’ behalf or state things in their name, however, they can shed light upon people’s communication style, and that alone is more than enough to secure good teamwork and proper collaboration skills.
7) Improve decision-making skills
Developing one’s decision-making skills is a constant work in progress, and this goes for HR leaders, managers, team leaders, and team players. This is where personality tests can help, as most asses attributes related to decision-making.
For instance, if a test taker discovers they’re a detailed thinker and need more information before they take action, this means you’re probably dealing with an employee who doesn’t make rush decisions.
On the other hand, if an employee’s test shows you they’re dynamic, impulsive, quick, and determined to get things done no matter what, they might make some hasty decisions. And while acting impromptu is important in some corporate contexts, it may be problematic and not the best approach in others.
Having such insights also helps you as an employer with employment decisions, everyday task delegation decisions, decisions regarding deadlines, clients, managers, subordinates, and so on.
8) Build a diverse workforce
Teams with a range of personalities, characteristics, beliefs, and attitudes are more likely to perform better than teams with people who see eye to eye about all matters.
In fact, the following piece of research suggests that when you include a wide range of personalities during team projects, there’s a balancing effect.
Namely, in stressful situations when negative emotions seem to be dominant, team players with good communication skills are much more likely to maintain the overall team spirit and boost everyone’s mood. On the other hand, the aggressive behavior of other team players may assist the team in keeping up with the tasks and being on track with the common goal.
Moreover, this diversity applies to team leaders with different work styles, team players from different genders, religions, professions, races, and so on.
All in all, when building a team, make sure there’s a balanced representation of different personalities.
9) Provide fun team-building opportunities
Team-building activities are amazing because they offer a more relaxed environment where employees don’t have to consciously think about good performance, team collaboration, shared goals, team effectiveness, and so on.
These aspects are just there. Organically.
Team-building is also about having fun, and having your employees take personality tests in such a relaxed state may prove to be much more effective than in any other formal setting.
What To Do After a Personality Test
Taking a personality test has no point if you don’t act upon the results afterward.
The following sections show you how to do it.
1) Get team members to share results
After everyone’s done with the personality test, ask your team members to share their results. Sharing the results with peers allows for deeper reflection.
They can answer questions such as:
How do I feel about the test results?
Do I think it truly reflects who I am as a person?
Is there anything that surprised me?
What are some aspects of the results I don’t quite resonate with?
Which aspects do I resonate with the most?
Is there anything I’m embarrassed by? If yes, what is it? And why?
Do I truly demonstrate these personality traits? If yes, when was the last time this happened in my work environment?
How can these test results help me improve my team goals?
How can these test results help me improve my frequent communication with fellow team members, managers, team leaders, and HR leaders?
How can these test results help me improve my good performance (so that it becomes best)?
How can these test results help me improve my good work skills (so that they become amazing)?
How can these test results help me improve my contribution to various team projects and team meetings?
How can these test results help me improve my perspective of the current company culture?
Do you share the same results with some fellow team members? Would you be comfortable discussing these findings with them?
Do you think the test type was a right fit for you? Why? Why not?
You can ask your employees to engage in an oral reflection, or perhaps asking them to write things down would be an even better option.
Review these reflections afterward, and if necessary, schedule a meeting to chat with them one-on-one to discuss things further.
Make sure to let them know all test results are meaningful on their own, and one result or personality type isn’t better than another one - the whole point is for everyone to find what works for them and use these findings to improve teamwork in the office and achieve their long-term goals.
2) Have teams commit to helping each other with their weaknesses
Personality tests shed light upon one’s strengths, however, that also means they expose people’s weaknesses too. And although dealing with weaknesses is no fun and games, it has to be done if you truly want to learn how to improve teamwork.
When it comes to potential weaknesses, here are some ideas you should be on the lookout for aggression, close-mindedness, poor judgment of people, disengaged, disorganized, poor handling of negative feedback, being extremely shy, quite impulsive, and so on.
There are many ways to start tackling this issue. One good idea is to consider cross-training among fellow team members with specific strengths. The point is to match strong employees with fellow group members who exhibit weaknesses in the corresponding area. Such a cross-training approach enables strong employees to further boost their strengths and acquire some mentoring/training abilities. At the same time, the mentees get to work on their weaknesses and explore skills and talents they may have never contemplated before.
3) Evaluate regularly
Personality testing isn’t a one-off occurrence.
You should occasionally do evaluations, but more importantly, you should do follow-ups.
For instance, once you’re done discussing the test results and developing a cross-training program, see whether everyone’s making progress. And if it’s been a while since you’ve run a personality test with the new hires to see how they’ve been coming along, catch up. Or if you feel personality testing has been a huge success during the latest team-building weekend, consider hosting another one.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to notice poor teamwork in the work environment?
There are many warning signs that show a team is headed toward dysfunction. Here are the most obvious ones:
1) Lack of good communication
There’s no good communication among managers or team members, and people seem to be operating from different points of view. No one’s ever certain whether their message is conveyed and whether other fellow group members are clear on who does what in the team. Poor communication seems to “rule” the office and employees even tend to be indifferent about it. This results in frequent misunderstanding, frustration, wasted time, and no one quite being sure where they’re headed.
2) Bad attitude
Employees exhibit a bad attitude toward fellow team members. They don’t care what others have to say, aren’t interested in hearing others’ ideas, suggestions, or even their work-related concerns. Moreover, such employees are also never willing to compromise or support peers. There’s an unwillingness to cooperate and many people exhibit selfish behavior (for instance, they could withhold important information for specific projects or team meetings with clients). In such instances, any progress or teamwork comes to a halt. There may also be a breakdown in the chain of command, or worse - there could be no identified team leaders at all.
Conflict seems to be present in every corner of the office. Employees are at odds with each other at all times, argue about the division of labor, can’t divide tasks among fellow team members, don’t want to do their part, are often late with tasks and projects, and so on.
Moreover, backstabbing can be a huge issue in work environments with poor teamwork skills. When employees turn against one another, trust is ruined and there’s no easy way to repair this. Backstabbing makes it almost impossible to restore good teamwork, help group members to focus on the good things, or encourage everyone to remember they're working toward a common goal. In fact, such deceptive behavior may impact an entire department in a negative way, or even diminish the foundation of the whole company.
4) Unclear expectations
Unclear expectations in the office can cause chaos too. When priorities and goals aren’t clearly stated or even defined, group members may make wrong assumptions. For instance, fellow team members may not put in enough efforts, try to outdo one another instead of working toward a common goal, not complete priority tasks and focus on tasks that can wait instead, not listen to managers or team leaders, and so on.
5) Leadership bias
Leadership bias can not only turn some employees against each other, but also impede the progress of great team efforts, project completion, and the overall team dynamic in the office. And while leaders may be more drawn to some employees than others, they mustn’t allow this to cloud their judgment or affect important decisions.
All in all, poor teamwork keeps the whole company in a status quo situation and never enhances a group’s productivity. Things are never completed on schedule and in the end, one bad thing leads to another one - it’s almost like a poor teamwork domino effect.
What personality tests can a team take?
Team members can take a wide range of personality tests. Here are some of the best suggestions:
1) WorkStyle assessment
The WorkStyle assessment includes the following eight scientifically validated personality tests and combines them into one profile for a more comprehensive analysis:
Occupational Emotional Intelligence
All you need to do is invite your employees to take the tests and fill out their WorkStyle profiles. Afterward, each person can review their test results and see how they can proceed further.
The Enneagram test gives personality assessments based on interconnected human traits. There are nine Enneagram personality types, each covering a specific human trait. They’re as follows:
- Type 1: Idealist
- Type 2: Caregiver
- Type 3: Performer
- Type 4: Creative
- Type 5: Thinker
- Type 6: Loyalist
- Type 7: Adventurer
- Type 8: Protector
- Type 9: Peacekeeper
And while there are a lot of differences among these nine types, there are variations within each referred to as “wings”. These wings help clarify details and specifics within each type.
If you’re interested in this test, you can find it on Truity.
3) Myers Briggs Personality Test (MBTI)
The purpose behind the creation of The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was to help people understand personality differences among the overall population. Such assessment is meant to help people get valuable insights into their strengths and weaknesses, as well as comprehend how and why they differ from others.
On the whole, the test is based on four categories: extraversion (E) or introversion (I), sensing (S) or institution (N), thinking (T) or feeling (F), judging (J) or perceiving (P). Besides this classification, there are sixteen distinct personality types: ESTJ, ENTJ, ESFJ, ENFJ, ISTJ, ISFJ, INTJ, INFJ, ESTP, ESFP, ENTP, ENFP, ISTP, ISFP, INTP and INFP. Each of them comes with a detailed description.
To take the test, visit 16 Personalities.
4) MyPersonality Test
This free 10-minute test is meant to help your employees understand how they react in planned and unplanned situations, confusing and clear contexts, and “normal” and challenging situations.
The assessment is meant to help people react better to circumstances and adjust in a way that’s needed.
Although relatively short and simple, MyPersonality test provides test takers with meaningful information and details about their strengths. This helps them not only develop more effective teamwork skills, but also unlock more of their potential.
If this resonates with your personality assessment criteria, check out this link.
Are there any downsides to personality testing?
Our article won’t be complete or truly objective unless we address all sides of personality testing. And that includes discussing some downsides, alongside how you shouldn’t use these tests with your employees.
Some of the matters we discuss below may sound familiar or even obsolete at first as they’re quite logical, but oftentimes it’s easy to get carried away by the notions of personality testing and take things (or the results) for granted simply because everything is outlined for us in greater detail. However, we shouldn’t forget that sometimes when people take these tests, they "type themselves as the person they want to be, rather than the person they are.”
1) Unreliable results
Which is why the first downside worth mentioning is getting unreliable results. And this may happen due to many reasons. Employees who want to leave a good impression may tick boxes that don’t truly describe who they are (for instance, choosing options that suggest they take action, have no problem initiating new ideas, engage in frequent communication with peers, and so on, whereas, in reality, they have a much more passive approach and are more receptive to things rather than initiating them).
Also, sometimes an employee may not be in the mood because of some personal problems, they might be feeling under the weather, rushing through the answers, or they could simply not feel like taking a personality test at a given moment. All these things, although random, may potentially impact the test results.
However, even these inconsistencies can be beneficial - only if you know how to take advantage of them. Here’s a piece of advice by Leah Fessler:
Reflecting together on the accuracies and inconsistencies we perceived between our test results and our own self-image revealed our insecurities about our jobs, insights about which communication tactics we liked and disliked, and our professional strengths—all of this before we knew one another’s neighborhoods, alma maters, or relationship statuses. But the information gleaned in these discussions offered a different kind of intelligence on the people in our work environment, intelligence that’s typically tough to gain otherwise.
2) Wrong task delegation
We already said that personality tests should help you delegate tasks in a much better way.
However, you shouldn’t follow all results blindly at all times.
Let’s say you’re working on a new project for a client that one of your employees knows quite well. They understand what new ideas this client will appreciate, don’t have issues understanding their shared goals, and know what good performance means to them. They can also see the bigger picture and know where this project is heading.
But their personality test results might show they’re quite introverted and don’t exhibit a lot of leadership skills. Does that mean this person isn’t suitable to lead the project? Should this employee’s effective teamwork and frequent communication with this client be neglected just because they’re allegedly not “suitable” for a leadership role? Be prepared to face similar situations where relying solely on the personality test results might lead to making the wrong decision.
3) Remote workers
Using personality testing with remote teams can sometimes be tricky. Namely, a lot of companies tend to rely heavily on test results when it comes to deciphering remote team members’ personalities, characters, work style, team effectiveness, and so on.
For example, interpersonal conflicts can be quite challenging in remote work environments. And so, employers turn to personality test results to understand others’ strengths, shared language, and teamwork skills so that they can start addressing the issue at hand.
However, test results on their own can’t truly help you see the bigger picture at all times. That’s why with remote workers, it’s important to take these test results with a grain of salt. When in-person interactions are heavily reduced, and both employers and employees are left just with virtual meetings, Slack DMs, and emails, one needs to try and work harder to get to know others. It may be a bigger challenge than dealing with in-person employees, however, it’s worth it in the end.
4) New hires
The same applies to new hires during the onboarding process.
While personality testing can help you get valuable insights into your new hires’ teamwork skills, long-term goals, and communication style, you can’t rely on these tests to reveal all important matters about new employees you’ve just started working with.
In essence, they should be a great starting point - however, it’s ultimately your experience that will shed light upon how to improve teamwork with new hires, how to build strong teams with new employees, what to do to make sure the entire team accepts new ideas from new hires, and how to make sure everyone works toward shared goals.
5) Picking the wrong test
Not all personality tests should be used in all contexts. Some are just for fun, and then there are those more suitable for corporate contexts.
Therefore, you need to make sure you pick the right test so it has the effect you’re after.
That said, not all tests suitable for corporate contexts are fitting for all situations. For instance, one test may be suitable for the onboarding process of new hires, however, another may be better for team-building purposes. A third test may be great for employees who want to learn more about various career paths.
All in all, when it comes to how to improve teamwork using personality tests, it goes without saying that such testing can help you and your employees achieve great things.
However, they aren’t magical tools that can help you remedy a lack of team effectiveness, open communication issues in the workplace, lost mutual trust, and so on.
They should merely be a first step in the team process, as well as part of a much larger and more complex teamwork strategy. These tests are here to assist you in your work - your personal reasoning or office observations should never be neglected or underestimated.